3MT logo 2020
Sreevalsan Menon

PhD Candidate, Sreevalsan Menon, wins Missouri S&T 3MT® Competition

Sreevalsan Menon, a PhD Candidate in Mechanical Engineering, came in 1st place at the Missouri S&T Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Finale Competition on Wednesday, February 24, 2021. This is the sixth time Missouri S&T has hosted a competition. This year’s event was virtual to ensure social distancing protocols with the pandemic.

During the 3MT® competition graduate student contestants have only three minutes and a single PowerPoint slide to discuss their research and explain the importance to a non-specialist audience and judging panel. Contestants are judged on comprehension, content, communication, and engagement. Out of many talented contestants, Menon impressed the judges with his intriguing research presentation titled “Identification of Brain Neuromarkers in Health and Disease.” His concise and effective representation of his research plus his engaging presentation allowed him to take home the 1st place position. Menon also was voted as this year’s People’s Choice Award Recipient by audience members.

The Runner-Up for the competition was Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy, MS in Systems Engineering, who presented on “Multi-Hop Question Answering”.

Judges for this year’s 3MT® competition included Rolla community members Judge Mark Calvert, Lister Florence, Ryan Buschjost, Layla Earl, and John Butz. Additional community and campus members were involved in preliminary judging rounds. Missouri S&T asks people from around the community to volunteer as judges to showcase some of the excellent work graduate students at Missouri S&T are accomplishing.

Menon will move on to represent Missouri S&T at the regional 3MT® competition being held virtually March 24-26 at the annual meeting of the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS). Graduate students from across the region will present their research and compete for a spot at a national competition. The 3MT® competition originated with the University of Queensland, New Zealand and is now held annually at over 900 universities worldwide.


Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) 

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a competition for graduate students to develop and showcase their research communication skills. Developed by The University of Queensland (AU) in 2008, 3MT® will be held for the sixth time at Missouri S&T in February!

3MT® challenges students to present a compelling oration on their dissertation and its significance in just three minutes, in language appropriate for an educated, non-specialist audience.  Participating in 3MT® helps students enhance their resume/CV, their networking skills, and their public speaking skills. Winners and finalists have gone on to compete regionally and acheived great success in their fields!


Virtual Competition for 2021

  • Preliminary and Semi-Final Round:
    • This year, the preliminary and semi-final rounds of 3MT® will be held virtually. Participants will pre-record their 3MT® submission by February 12 for Judges to consider on February 17 (preliminary round) and February 18 (semi-final round).
  • Final Round:
    • 3MT® Finalists will be recorded LIVE and presented via Zoom to judges and audience (room will only consist of camera person, time keeper, and finalist with 6ft+ between all people).


Learn more about 3MT® and how to prepare your research for presentation by attending ONE of these mandatory orientation sessions (required for 3MT participation):

3MT® Orientation and Research Prep Workshop:

Learn about the details of 3MT, what is required to participate, and how we can help. Also, learn how to organize your work so that it can help you at 3MT plus to network, present at conferences, and sell your ideas.

  • Wed., December 9, 2020 @ 2pm
  • Tues. January 12, 2021 @ 12pm
  • Thurs., January 21, 2021 @ 2pm


Timeline for 3MT®

  • Prior to January 24th, participate in an Orientation and Research Prep Workshop
  • January 24th - Sign up deadline!
  • January 28 @ 2pm (optional):
    • Workshop - Audience Engagement & Prepping your Presentation
      Learn about body language, eye contact, addressing the audienes, and figuring out how to be comfortable speaking in front of groups. Also, take this opportunity to learn how to design your slide and presentation for 3MT. 
  • February 1-5: Practice Sessions! (optional)
  • February 12: 3MT® video and slide due date (details TBA)
  • February 17: 3MT® Preliminary Rounds
  • February 18: 3MT® Semi-Final Rounds
  • February 24: 3MT® Finale - LIVE!

The public is invited to attend the Finale.

Register for 3MT!

3MT® Eligibility*

Active graduate students at Missouri S&T are eligible to compete. Those who have successfully defended and those who have graduated are not eligible.

You MUST be available for the final round (Wednesday, February 24th @ 5pm).

*Missouri S&T’s 3MT® competition is open to domestic and international graduate students. The presentation must be made in English.

Official 3MT® Rules*

  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. No slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any description are allowed. The slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration.
  • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
  • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum. Competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
  • Presentations are to commence from the stage (or front of the room).
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through either movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Preliminary Rounds (Wednesday, February 17)

  • The deadline for registering for 3MT® is January 24
  • The deadline for submitting preliminary round video is February 12 (instructions on how to upload/submit video will be shared after registration)
  • You must also submit your 3MT PowerPoint slide by February 12.
  • You will receive a confirmation of your submission February 13.
  • The preliminary rounds will take place on Wednesday, February 17. 
  • At the preliminaries, panels of judges will convene immediately after the preliminary rounds to make a decision and reveal the results. They will select the top contestants to move forward to the semi-final round.

  Semi-Final Round (Thursday, February 18)

  • If selected for the semi-final, you may not modify your slide/submission. The same video submitted for the preliminary round will be used in the semi-final round.
  • At the semi-final, a panel of judges will convene immediately after the round to make a decision and reveal the results. They will select the top six contestants to move forward to the final round.

 Final Round (Wednesday, February 24)

  • If selected for the final, you may not modify your slide. You must present during your assigned date/time at the final event.
  • Wear professional (business) attire.
  • On the date of the competition, check in at the registration table 30 minutes prior to your scheduled speaking time.
  • A timekeeper will notify you when it is your time to present. Move to the front of the room. When the cameraperson and virtual judges are ready, the timekeeper will tell you that you may begin your presentation.
  • The timekeeper will stop you at exactly 3 minutes. If you exceed three minutes, you will be disqualified.
  • At the Final event, a new panel of judges will convene immediately after the round to make a decision and reveal the results. Plaques will be awarded to the top contestant, runner up, and the People's Choice award. The Missouri S&T 3MT® winner will become eligible to represent Missouri S&T at regional and national competitions, expenses paid. 

Official 3MT® Judging Criteria

Two criterion are used at every level of the competition. Please be aware that each of these criterion are equally weighted. 

Criterion 1: Comprehension & Content

  • Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background to the research question being addressed and its significance?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the key results of the research including conclusions and outcomes?
  • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
  • Was the thesis topic, key results and research significance and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  • Did the speaker avoid scientific jargon, explain terminology and provide adequate background information to illustrate points?
  • Did the presenter spend adequate time on each element of their presentation - or did they elaborate for too long on one aspect or was the presentation rushed?

 Criterion 2: Engagement & Communication

  • Did the oration make the audience want to know more?
  • Was the presenter careful not to trivialize or generalize their research?
  • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
  • Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience's attention?
  • Did the speaker have sufficient stage presence, eye contact and vocal range; maintain a steady pace, and have a confident stance?
  • Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation - was it clear, legible, and concise?

Who can be a Judge?

To provide each student with a similar experience, we have selected judges from community and campus leaders including business owners, local elected officials, campus administrators, and more. The judges varying in age, gender, profession and discipline.

Missouri S&T 3MT® Prizes

First Place will receive a plaque and will become eligible to represent Missouri S&T at the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) annual conference in March 2021. Travel expenses will be paid for by the University (Note: MAGS '21 will be virtual). If selected as a finalist at MAGS, travel expenses will be paid for by the University to national level competition at the Council of Graduate Schools in December '21.

Runner-up will receive a plaque.

People's Choice will receive a plaque.

How to Enter the Missouri S&T 3MT® Competition

  1. Complete the registration form.
  2. Attend one of the MANDATORY Orientation and Research Prep sessions.
  3. Attend a practice session (optional).
  4. Submit your PowerPoint slide as "Widescreen (16:9)" to grad@mst.edu AND your video recording of your 3MT by Sunday, February 12, 2021 (details on submitting your video will be shared at the Orientation and Research Prep session)


What does it take to win 3MT®? 

First, understand that the Missouri S&T 3MT® presentation will be scored by the judges on two criterion, comprehension/content, and engagement/communication.

Strategy: Explain the judging criterion to your family and friends when you practice. Ask them to rate your presentation.

Second, in a 3MT® competition, what you say matters, but how you deliver your message will be the key to winning.  

Strategy: Critique presentations designed for public viewing. Some winning 3MT® presentations can be found here. What successful characteristics stand out to you about these presentations?

  • How did the speaker capture the attention of the audience?
  • What tone, volume, and tempo is the speaker using? Is it effective in keeping the attention of the audience? 
  • Observe: How did the speaker use eye contact, hand gestures and/or body movement to emphasize points?
  • How did the single slide serve to enhance the presentation?  

How did the speaker make the research both meaningful and memorable for the audience?  

Missouri S&T 3MT® Orientation and Research Prep Session (Mandatory)
Note: You MUST attend one of these orientation sessions. 

3MT® Orientation and Prepping your Research Workshop:

  • Wed., December 9, 2020 @ 2pm
  • Tues. January 12, 2021 @ 12pm
  • Thurs., January 21, 2021 @ 2pm

Practice Session

Practice sessions time slots will be availble between February 1-5. Sign-up sheets for practice sessions will be sent out after attendance at the Orientation session.

To reserve a time before or after these times, email grad@mst.edu.


Competition Rounds

  • Preliminary: February 17
  • Semi-Final: February 18
  • Finale: Wednesday, February 24, 5:00PM (Live via Zoom)

The public is invited to (virtually) attend the finale.

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ) in Australia. The exercise challenges graduate student candidates to present a compelling oration on their thesis (dissertation) topic and its significance in just three minutes.

3MT® develops academic, presentation, and research communication skills and supports the development of research students' capacity to effectively explain their research in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

3MT® History

The first 3MT® was held at UQ in 2008 with 160 RHD students competing. In 2009 and 2010 the 3MT® competition was promoted to other Australian and New Zealand universities and enthusiasm for the concept grew. Due to its adoption in numerous universities, a multi-national event was developed, and the Inaugural Trans-Tasman 3MT® competition was held at UQ in 2010.

Since 2011 the popularity of the competition has increased and 3MT® competitions are now held in over 170 universities across more than 18 countries worldwide.

In November 2013, the first Universities 21 (U21) 3MT® competition was held with several universities from around the world competing in a virtual competition.

The Council of Graduate Schools is encouraging US institutions to host 3MT® competitions. Several SEC universities, including Missouri S&T, sponsor 3MT® events.